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The Opening Programme for the Astoria Theatre, Streatham, June 30th 1930

The Front Cover of the Opening Programme for the Astoria Theatre, Streatham, June 30th 1930 - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

Above - The Front Cover of the Opening Programme for the Astoria Theatre, Streatham, June 30th 1930 - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

Policy of the Directorate

The First Page of the Opening Programme for the Astoria Theatre, Streatham, June 30th 1930 - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.The Directors of these Theatres set out with the intention of providing a chain of really high-class cinemas in the outlying districts of London, and providing for the residents of the selected districts entertainment and comfort on the same lines as provided in the West-End of London, but at prices which would commend themselves to the different neighbourhoods.

Right - The First Page of the Opening Programme for the Astoria Theatre, Streatham, June 30th 1930 - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

The first to be completed was the Brixton Astoria, where the principle of providing a West-End entertainment at suburban prices has been eminently successful - in fact has exceeded even the anticipations of those most intimately associated with the scheme.

Independent film exhibitor, Arthur Segal - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.The same policy will obtain at the Streatham Astoria. The theatre has been built to be worthy of the neighbourhood in which it is situated. Its architecture conforms to the amenities of the district; the decorations and furnishings are the last word in beauty and comfort; and the Entertainment will be of a nature only to be found in Theatres equally distinctive. Such Theatres are few - the Astorias already built and one or two West-End houses complete the list.

Left - Independent film exhibitor, Arthur Segal - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

The pictures - silent and talking - will be the world's best. The talking apparatus installed is the same as in all the best theatres. The variety part of the entertainment will present the most famous stars of the music-hall stage, and the stage presentations will be on a scale never before attempted outside the West-End until so successfully presented at our first theatre, the Brixton Astoria.

Music will be a big feature in the entertainment provided, and a permanent orchestra will be maintained under a talented and popular leader.

Details of the Opening Night Production at the Streatham Astoria, June 30th 1930 - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

Above - Details of the Opening Night Production at the Streatham Astoria, June 30th 1930 - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

The Directorate of the Streatham Astoria - E A Stone, Chairman, J. C. Claveing, Arthur Lessor, D. J. James, Arthur Segal, Managing Director, E. L. Killick, and Albert Lessor - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.The Directorate and Management are sincere in their endeavours to raise the standard of entertainment and entertaining, and the maintenance of their declared policy is accepted as a duty to the public they serve.

Right - The Directorate of the Streatham Astoria - E A Stone, Chairman, J. C. Claveing, Arthur Lessor, D. J. James, Arthur Segal, Managing Director, E. L. Killick, and Albert Lessor - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

The business of Cinema Entertaining is a progressive one. Momentous new ideas are suddenly introduced, and pace must be kept with modern requirements.

The Astorias, being already in the front rank, will march with the times, and new inventions will be installed just as soon as they become practical possibilities.

Originality with Dignity

The site on which the Streatham Astoria is erected is on the main Streatham High Road, within a few minutes' walk of the Streatham and Streatham Hill Stations.

On approaching Streatham Astoria, the impression of a dignified design is at once conveyed.

E. A. Stone, Architect of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.The front and side elevations treated in stone and multi-coloured bricks are based on traditional lines but treated with modern detail, and the result is both pleasing and effective.

Modern design and forethought for the comfort and convenience of Patrons has been the keynote of the design and equipment of the Theatre. which is planned with the seating accommodation on two floors, all arranged so that a perfect view of the stage and screen is obtained from every seat, while the acoustic properties are such that a stage turn or "talkie" is clearly audible from every part of the vast area covered by the Stalls and Balcony.

Left - Edward Albert Stone, Architect of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

It is in the Auditorium, however. that exceptional credit must be given the designer for the originality displayed. The general design is based upon Egyptian Traditions in pleasing tones of red, green and gold, enhanced by carefully concealed and reflected lighting, while the-flank walls of the Circle are enriched with highly coloured bas reliefs of Egyptian scenes.

Major Bell, O.B.E - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.The main ceiling immediately draws the attention, for in both design and decorations all precedent has been put aside, and an original and unique conception is the result. There are two ceilings, one above the other; the upper illuminated by flood lights is visible through the perforated panels of the suspended ceiling below, and the effect of the constantly changing coloured lights is extremely spectacular.

Right - Major Bell, O.B.E - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

That the safety of the public shall be assured is a vital point in building a cinema, and in consequence elaborate precautions are taken to ensure the perfect safety. Exits are amply provided, and the whole building is rendered fire resisting in accordance with the regulations of the London County Council.

It would be quite possible to produce, at the Astoria, Streatham, any stage play or revue, as a fully-equipped stage is provided complete with counterweighted scenery. Beyond the stage are a large number of well lighted and equipped dressing rooms for the use of artistes.

Prominent on the Job - W. J. Griggs, contractor, A. G. Morrice, District Surveyor, F. L. Griggs, contractor, Marc-Henri, interior decorator, F. Edmunds, general foreman, and G. Laverdet, interior decorator - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

Above - Prominent on the Job - W. J. Griggs, contractor, A. G. Morrice, District Surveyor, F. L. Griggs, contractor, Marc-Henri, interior decorator, F. Edmunds, general foreman, and G. Laverdet, interior decorator - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

Machinery in Streatham Astoria

The Streatham Astoria Theatre - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

Above - The Streatham Astoria Theatre - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

An Advertisement for Carrier Ventilation - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive. Very few Patrons sitting in a vast auditorium such as Streatham Astoria possesses, really appreciate the energy required and the amount of machinery necessary in a Theatre, in order that they may witness the performance in comfort.

Right - An Advertisement for Carrier Ventilation - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

In the Streatham Astoria is installed one of the largest heating and ventilation plants yet incorporated in any modern Theatre. Over 3,000,000 cubic feet of air per hour are brought into the Theatre, and, before being distributed, are washed and cleansed by means of special apparatus so as to provide not only a healthy atmosphere, but to maintain temperatures which will at all times be comfortable. It is necessary for this apparatus to be of such a design that on the coldest day in winter the temperature can be raised to a normal one and maintained in this way, irrespective of whether the Theatre is packed to capacity or only partially full. Likewise in the summer time it is essential to introduce air at a temperature which will assure the comfort of the Patron.

Next to the climatic conditions created is the visual beauty produced by effective lighting. The decorative art loses a great deal of its beauty if it is not viewed in the correct light, but at the same time this illumination must be of such a character as to produce even lighting throughout the Theatre without glare and anything that might affect or displease the eye, and in any way create a condition which will tend to prevent the Patron from concentrating on the performance.

An Advertisement for Berkeley Electrical Engineering - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive. It is often noticed that glaring lights in the auditorium so disturb the vision that the Patron is unable to view the picture until it has been on the screen for some minutes, the lighting of the picture and that in the auditorium being so contrasted.

In this Theatre some 8,000 lamps are employed to provide all the colour and effect lighting for the stage and auditorium, and with this figure one will appreciate the amount of energy necessary to provide this illumination. The Theatre receives its current at 6,600 volts and has adopted the voltages now being made standard throughout the country, and has, in fact, one of the most up-to-date electric installations in Great Britain.

Left - An Advertisement for Berkeley Electrical Engineering - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

The stage is equipped for the presentation of almost any kind of entertainment known. Streatham Astoria could equally well put on grand opera at a few hours' notice, as they could the special presentations provided as part of their programmes. The Directors have provided for every form of entertainment known.

The safety of patrons in a picture theatre is a topic which has been much in the public eye recently, and in this respect this Theatre can claim to be the last word in safety-first equipment. The whole of the stage section is equipped with automatic sprinklers which operate without the introduction of the human element, and the Safety Curtain installed is the largest and most formidable piece of machinery in any theatre in Great Britain.

Nothing has been spared to make Streatham Astoria one of the foremost Cinema Theatres in the country.

A Decorative Triumph

The Auditorium of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

Above - The Auditorium of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

A Corridor in the Foyer - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive. The day of the faithfully reproduced historical style, detail by detail with the usual lifeless result, is happily gone. In this theatre, whilst a distinct Egyptian atmosphere has ben retained, a very modern decoration is achieved by basing most of the colour schemes and details on this style.

Right - A Corridor in the Foyer - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

An Egyptian Scene in the Balcony of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive. The Entrance Hall, of long rectangular shape, its longer walls broken on one side by doors from the street and on the other side by doors to the Stalls, is chiefly remarkable for its boldly coved and heavily fluted silver cornice, resting on grooved pilasters with black, green, and silver modernised caps.

Left - An Egyptian Scene in the Balcony of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

An Egyptian Scene in the Balcony of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive. Staircases lead to the Foyer through openings in the shorter walls at both ends of the Hall, with lighted and glazed fountains on the half landings. The metal work of the balusters and the radiator grilles are finished in silver.

Right - An Egyptian Scene in the Balcony of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

A long room wider than the Hall below, with low ceilinged aisles on either side, the Foyer has for its main decorative features a semi-vaulted ceiling and an elaborate open plaster frieze supported by square piers with Lotus caps, the walls are dull red with a texture of plastic paint, and the frieze is picked out in bright green, gold and black, flooded by lighting concealed in a fluted architrave. The ceiling is gold colour.

The Auditorium Ceiling of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

Above - The Auditorium Ceiling of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

Side Panel in Decorative Scheme - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive. Entered from the Foyer is the Ladies' Rest-room, with a triple-coved cornice and glass lighting at frieze level, the settee is specially designed with flood lights in the back to fit under a coloured relief mural decoration of an Egyptian female figure bathing amidst lotus flowers, the lower part of the panel being covered with grooved glass, to represent water, fixed into a chromium plated metal frame. The direct contrast to the cooler tones of the Entrance Hall and Foyer is felt immediately. The predominant colour is pure vermillion, all mouldings and embellishments being black and gold, producing a very rich effect, especially where it occurs in the ceiling, the dominating feature of the whole interior. This ceiling is formed of elaborate perforated grilles in panels and is hung about two feet from the main ceiling, which is plain and light in colour, in order to reflect concealed lighting through the grilles below.

Right - Side Panel in Decorative Scheme - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

The flank walls of the Balcony are divided into three bays by pilasters, the caps of which form glass and metal light fitments. Filling the whole of these bays, and seeming to pass behind the pilasters, are two large mural decorations in highly coloured relief, one representing a hunting scene with horses and chariots and lions and the other a river scene with boats, the background being modernised Egyptian landscapes. To counteract the effect of so much rich colour, the seating is cool green on a special carpet of golden brown, cream and black in a repeat pattern of fan-shaped Lotus flowers. Controlled brilliance is the keynote of the ensemble.

Builders of the Theatre

The name of Griggs and Son, Westminster, may justly be said to be a household word where theatre and cinema construction are concerned. For many years they have been prominent in the construction of new theatres and cinemas, and in bringing some of the older ones up-to-date.

Among new work the Charing Cross Astoria, the Piccadilly Theatre, the Stamford Hill Cinema, and the Brixton Astoria, the Whitehall Theatre, the Prince Edward Theatre, are worthy of special mention.

A List of Contractors involved with the building of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive. In carrying out these contracts Messrs. Griggs and Son earned a reputation for rapidity of construction - a most vital factor to-day - good craftsmanship, and joinery of a very high quality and finish.

They were responsible for the new Dressing-room Block and bringing the stage up to modern standards at the Old Vic, and later for the extensive alterations at the South London Palace.

Left - A List of Contractors involved with the building of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

The Streatham Astoria, just completed, is an outstanding achievement of which they have every reason to be justly proud. This is but one of many similar theatres they have under construction in different parts of the metropolis.

To sum up, Messrs. Griggs and Son's position to-day as builders in the London theatre world is unique and well deserved. They have made a notable contribution to the amenities of London as a great centre of public entertainment.

The Organ at the Streatham Astoria

An Advertisement for Compton Theatre Organs - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive. The organ installed in this beautiful theatre is a Compton of the most complete and luxurious type. Its construction was commenced by the John Compton Organ Company, London, some six months ago, and its erection in the theatre has occupied several weeks.

The main portion of the organ occupies three large rooms (the size of a small house) over the proscenium arch. These rooms extend the full width of the theatre, and the sounds of the organ enter the theatre through a specially designed resonance chamber and grille over the proscenium.

Right - An Advertisement for Compton Theatre Organs - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

The pipes, of which there are a great number, are of all sizes and shapes, some being as large as chimney stacks, others as slender as straws. The Vox Humana, or human voice, has 73 pipes. Their sounds proceed from a "mouth" in the upper end of the pipe, and at the lower end there is a vibrating device, closely resembling the human larynx and serving a very similar purpose.

Other tonal effects include the diapason, diaphone, string and reed tones, for which the Compton organs are famous, whilst the percussion department contains a lovely Chrysoglott, a Xylophone, Glockenspiel, and fine overstrung piano; a set of twenty Cathedral Chimes, and a Carrillon exclusive to the Compton organ, besides all the characteristic effects of a symphony orchestra, such as bass and snare drum, tom-tom, castanets, tambourine, Chinese block, sleighbells, cymbal and triangle.

The mechanism is of Compton design and manufacture throughout, and is instantly sensitive to every possible demand. There are some 12,000 sterling silver contacts in this mechanism, and approximately sixty miles of insulated wire has been used in the manufacture and connections of the various parts.

Management at Streatham Astoria

Astoria Personalities - F. R. Drake, Musical Director, H. T. Richardson, Secretary, A. Bollington, solo organist, G. N. Bargate, Assistant house Manager, F. G. Lean, Stage Manager - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

Above - Astoria Personalities - F. R. Drake, Musical Director, H. T. Richardson, Secretary, A. Bollington, solo organist, G. N. Bargate, Assistant house Manager, F. G. Lean, Stage Manager - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

An Advertisement for Griggs & Son Ltd., builders of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.One particular which entered largely into the success of the Astorias already opened, has been insisted on by the Directorate in all departments of management - that particular is "experience." Without experienced management, success would not be possible. The whole of the Astorias are under the general managership of Mr. CHARLES PENLEY, whose experience in matters of entertainment can be said to be life-long. Mr. Penley was cradled in the entertainment atmosphere. His father, the late Mr. W. S. Penley, of "Charley's Aunt" fame, created a name which is known wherever the English language is spoken, a name not only known, but honoured.

Right - An Advertisement for Griggs & Son Ltd., builders of the Streatham Astoria - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

Mr. Charles Penley has had more experience than most in cinema and vaudeville management and all details appertaining thereto, and his selection as General Manager of the Astorias was a happy one. To recite the list of his appointments would be to tell the story of his life, and it will be sufficient to state that among them were the Alhambra, Leicester Square; the Astoria, Charing Cross Road; and the Piccadilly Theatre.

Charles Penley, General Manager - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.At the Prince of Wales' Theatre, Lewisham, Mr. Penley was the first to introduce broadcasting of cinema music, and at the Piccadilly Theatre he had the honour of being the first British Manager to introduce talking films to the public.

Left - Charles Penley, General Manager - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

With the Provincial Cinematograph Theatres Circuit, he had many successes, and during his term with that company was entrusted with carrying out command performances at Balmoral Castle, and received high praise from Their Majesties on his achievements. Since assuming control of the Astorias, Mr Penley has added to his successes, more particularly in stage production. His big stage shows have earned many plaudits from Press and Public, and all the Astorias have the advantage of these successes. Mr. Penley has gathered round him a staff experienced in every department - and this, in a great measure, is responsible for the smooth and successful working of the important circuit.

Resident Manager Mr. R. Brough-Johnson

An Advertisement for Frank Burkitt Stage Equipment Engineers and Contractors - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive. The position of resident manager at the Streatham Astoria has been filled by the appointment of Mr. R. Brough-Johnson, a gentleman who will be familiar to many who have, up till now, sought their cinema entertainment in the West End of London. Mr. Brough-Johnson, like his fellow managers of Astorias, has had a very long experience of picture theatre management.

Right - An Advertisement for Frank Burkitt Stage Equipment Engineers and Contractors - From the Opening Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

In the days when the present Rialto in Coventry Street was known as the West End Cinema, he was in the managerial position, and since 1914, with the exception of his period in His Majesty's Forces, he has been in a similar position at the famous Marble Arch Pavilion. At the latter house, Mr. Brough-Johnson became known to a vast number of cinema-goers in every class of society, from Their Majesties the King and Queen, H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, The Duke and Duchess of York, and other members of the Royal Family, to the more humble members of the general public, and, as a good manager should, he extended the same courtesy to all, and his popularity was universal. Mr. Brough-Johnson's experience will stand him in good stead at the Streatham Astoria, and his selection for the position will commend itself to all patrons.

The Full Programme

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Above - The Full Opening Night Programme for the Streatham Astoria - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

The text and images on this page are from the Opening Programme for the Astoria Theatre, Streatham - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

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